facebook blog

Marie's Personal Story

Marie’s "It’s Yoga" Story
Written February, 27 2011, one year after Larry’s passing.

"It’s Yoga" in Toledo has been a dream of mine since 2004. I had started practicing Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga at "It’s Yoga" in Columbus after a serious hip surgery at age 20. I was drawn to how appropriate the practice was for me, and was inspired by the range of people in the room. I loved the idea of breathing and moving at the same time, and the feeling at the end of that first class, kept me returning until I graduated in spring of 2003. I had a short stint in the “real world” of politics in Washington, DC and Columbus, Ohio before realizing I just had to go to San Francisco to participate in the "It’s Yoga Teacher Training" with Larry Schultz.

I had met Larry on one of his trips through Ohio. As the founder of "It’s Yoga," his style was fun, light, and exciting. I felt as if, like almost everyone who ever took his class, I could do anything. I could fly, literally! I knew someday I would go to San Francisco and be a part of what Larry called, “The Silent Revolution.” People turning away from what doesn’t work, to what does. For me, it was all about the Yoga.

Elbow stand in Palm Springs, 2007

Elbow stand in Palm Springs, 2007

Larry & Marie

Larry & Marie

Teaching 4:30 Class in San Francisco

Teaching 4:30 Class in San Francisco

The rest is quite a story. I loved every minute of that October and November is San Francisco. I was full of excitement, and I felt like the world was just starting to come together for me. Not a morning person at all, I found myself humming in the rain as I walked to practice with Larry at 7:30 AM. It was what he called, “Follow the Yogi.” I would just follow what he did, and I was amazed at how graceful and fluid his movements where. It confused me how, at his age 54 to my 24, he could stand on his hands while I fell down every time? Luckily for me, the rest of my training group took the mornings to sleep in, so I had daily attention from the Yogaman, as I began to call him. He was an enigma to me.

Throughout the training, Larry would encourage me to stay in San Francisco, work at "It’s Yoga," and gain more experience. I had what he called, “potential,” and he really wanted to see where the practice would take me. Apprehensive and full of questions at first, I realized if I just relaxed that I was thrilled. To live in San Francisco and to practice at one of the largest and oldest Ashtanga Schools in the West was exactly what I wanted. I knew I wasn’t ready to open a studio in Toledo, where I was from, and I wasn’t ready to move “home.”

When I decided to stay it was like the whole universe rallied for me, an apartment opened up, and a teaching position at "It’s Yoga." It was meant to be. The day after the training was complete, Larry and I took a walk around the city to discuss my move and share some quality time. I loved being with him, he was easy, funny, and he had rhythm to his step. He asked me what I wanted in life. I told him that I wanted to be happy, to have a partner that loved spirituality and loved Yoga. He said, “what about me?” I replied, “but you’re my yoga teacher!” He in turn said, “No, you’re mine.” And so began our love affair, we were inseparable from that day forward. We traveled the world sharing the practice, we lived in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, we led over fifty "It’s Yoga Teacher Trainings" together in San Francisco, and we got married in 2007! It was an amazing ride all the way til the end, when he passed away, here in Toledo February 27, 2011. It was like he brought me back “home” and then he went, “home.” He was never really of this world, and as difficult as it is to see the grace, love and light in all things, I have been trained to be those things. Larry continues to lead me, inviting me to keep loving and living the dream of Yoga.

Moving On...

We planned a tribute to honor Larry’s "Living Legacy," and people from all over the world joined in a private ceremony to remember a truly great man. The power in the room was off the charts, the energy was tangible, and the love was alive. The "It’s Yoga" directors of Cancun, Cape Town, Cincinnati, Florence, Mexico City, Puerto Rico, San Francisco, Stockholm, and Thailand were among the many that were represented. We spent time together, grieving, laughing, and questioning. In the end, it was an incredible weekend that for me that ended with a prophecy.

A dear friend, an astrologer, and a trainer from Stockholm, who did the "It’s Yoga Teacher Training" in 2007, and also the current Director of "It’s Yoga Stockholm" with his wife Madeline, requested a little private time. Over breakfast he encouraged me to move forward, to let go of the sad place I was residing in since Larry made his transition. He felt very strongly, and could see in my charts that I was going to meet someone, soon. Larry and I had planned on leading a training in May at Stockholm, and Anders said, “You have to come.” He wouldn’t budge, and I knew I had to go. So I took my mother Karyn, and we flew across the Atlantic.

The first day we arrived I met Daniel. It was one of those moments in life where I can remember everything very clearly. The night air, the pause, the moment. He was searching for a reception at the hotel where we were staying, we exchanged a few words, and that was that. A bit later, he re-appeared and asked if he could join us for a drink. It was nice company. He was from the Canary Islands, well that’s where he grew up, and I had a connection there who was interested in opening an "It’s Yoga." We spent an hour or so together before Daniel, my mother and I said goodnight. He was planning on leaving Stockholm the next day.

With Anders the Astrologer from Stockholm, Buena Vista Park SF 2007

With Anders the Astrologer from Stockholm, Buena Vista Park SF 2007

With Daniel at our first wedding at It’s Yoga in Toledo

With Daniel at our first wedding at "It’s Yoga" in Toledo.

I taught the following day and was impressed by my energy and excitement to be in the Yogaroom. That evening, back at the hotel, there was Daniel. I was happy he was there. I remember feeling like I hadn’t been happy, truly happy in months, and by the third day, it was on.

I remember thinking, “This is crazy?” and then, in Larry's voice, I remember hearing, “Good for you, babe!” in my head. I knew that I was on a ride since I signed on with "It’s Yoga," and this opportunity, to love and be loved so fast, was like moving at "Rocket" speed. I was comforted though, knowing it was written in the stars. In the end, we’re all just characters in this show called "Life." We create, we exist, we love, we share, and we ride the wave of Vinyasa towards our goals.

Daniel’s timing was impeccable. We were strangers passing in the night, but it was like we’d known each other forever. After the week in Stockholm, Karyn and I went to "It’s Yoga, Florence," where we spent the week practicing and eating pasta! Daniel went to London, where he lived, and gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse. ”If you are ready,” he said, “I have time for this. I will come to the States, I want to meet your family. Then you come to Europe and meet mine, and then we see.” And that’s exactly what we did.

After the family meetings, it was time to somewhat settle in. I returned to the States before Daniel did in September of 2011. On his second entry into the U.S., customs gave him a second interview, and made it very clear that this was the last time he was allowed in without a minimum of 3 months outside the country. We were in what Larry would call, “A pickle jar.” So we went to the professionals, an immigration specialist who asked us point blank, “Do you love each other?” We looked at each other, and said, “Yes.” She said, “Then get married, and do it before his Visa expires on December 2.” So, well, we did. Twice. Once for Homeland Security, to get our papers submitted pronto, and second, to have our families together and celebrate the "Union of Star-Crossed Lovers."

And that’s where we are now. In this moment, I hold the precious ache for my teacher, Larry Schultz, my friend, my partner, and my late husband. I hold him in the highest place in my mind and in my heart, and trust that his spirit is soaring through the universe at "Rocket" speed. And also in this moment, I hold the living love for Daniel, my lover, my husband, my partner and my friend. He held my hand this year, and continues to support me as I adjust to my new role in It’s Yoga International, to life with Larry in spirit form, and to expand myself in every way possible. So, it is with grace and ease that I offer this testimony of the last years of my life since stepping into the "It’s Yoga" community.

I am honored to have the opportunities I have had, and know that the present and future are full of more exciting and inspiring times.

May all beings every where be happy and free.

With love and gratitude,

Marie Russel